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E-Cigarettes Not Recommended as Tool to Quit Smoking, Hospital Says

ecigABINGTON, PA (January 16, 2015)–Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, seem to be everywhere right now. Their popularity has skyrocketed due to the belief that they can help smokers quit their habit, as well as for the variety of “fun” flavors they come in. But many health professionals are crying foul, saying these devices aren’t as safe as we’ve been led to believe.

Though some e-cigarettes look just like their tobacco counterparts and some resemble cigars, pipes, pens and even USB devices, they all have the same general anatomy.

“According to the Cancer Journal for Clinicians, most e-cigarettes generally consist of three parts: a replaceable or refillable nicotine-containing cartridge, a heater that converts the contents of the cartridge into a nicotine-containing vapor and a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element,” said Patricia Anasiewicz, nursing program coordinator with Community Health Services at Abington Health.

Since these devices contain nicotine but not tobacco, an increasing number of smokers have been turning to e-cigarettes as a tool to quit. However, their attempts to quit might be more successful with quitting aids that have been proven safe and effective.  There are prescription medications that can also help people quit smoking.

“The Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependency (AATUD) reports there’s no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are safe or that they help smokers reduce or eliminate their consumption of tobacco,” Anasiewicz said. “In reality, many consumers are not able to quit and sometimes discover they are now using both e-cigarettes, which can be quite expensive, as well as continuing to smoke.”

The American Heart Association (AHA) isn’t too keen on using these devices as a cessation aid either as they recommend smokers use some of the proven and safe tools available to help them quit including pure forms of inhalable nicotine, nasal sprays, gums and patches.

In addition, researchers who recently published a study in the journal Cancer concluded that e-cigarette users were actually more dependent on nicotine than regular smokers, and that e-cigarette users tried to quit more times than regular smokers did.

Still, the fact that e-cigarettes don’t contain the same toxins typically found in traditional tobacco cigarettes may lead people to think that they’re a healthier and safer option.

“Given that cigarettes contain more than 6,000 chemicals – with 60 known to cause cancer – some professionals consider e-cigarettes less harmful. However, with that said, it is important to note that e-cigarettes are not regulated,” Anasiewicz said.

Random testing of the more than 250 types of e-cigarettes available on the market by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that some of these devices contain dangerous metals and contaminants, including some that can cause cancer. Propylene glycol, an active ingredient found in anti-freeze, mixes with water to produce the distinctive vapor produced by e-cigarettes. Manufacturers say a food-grade version of propylene glycol is used for the devices.

In addition, there’s some evidence that e-cigarettes may cause short-term lung changes similar to those caused by regular cigarettes, but, again, the long-term health effects are still unclear.

E-cig makers admit that the devices contain nicotine, but the packaging does not include a list of the ingredients. That means that users really have no idea what they’re inhaling, including just how much nicotine they’re consuming. Consuming or inhaling high levels of nicotine can cause dangerous disturbances in your heart rhythm.

Because they aren’t regulated, there’s no legal need for these devices to be labeled with their ingredients. The FDA is working to change that by proposing rules that would require warning labels and make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.

The bottom line is that research into the short-term and long-term health effects of e-cigarettes is ongoing, lagging behind the booming popularity of the devices. Since the ingredients haven’t officially been deemed safe, most doctors won’t recommend using e-cigarettes.

(Source: Abington Health. Photo by By Martevax s.r.o. via Wikimedia Commons)

5 comments

  1. I find it very strange that this article denies that there is any research about ecigs being much safer than smoking {there is!} and these many studies have been around for a while. I have to wonder why a “medical digest” would willfully lie to it’s readers about a device{ecigs & eliquids}that is helping far more smokers than all the patches,gums and Chantix combined without any of the devastating side effects that Chantix has had.
    “The Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependency (AATUD) reports there’s no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are safe or that they help smokers reduce or eliminate their consumption of tobacco,” Anasiewicz said. ”In reality, many consumers are not able to quit and sometimes discover they are now using both e-cigarettes, which can be quite expensive, as well as continuing to smoke.” I’d like to see the “study” or link you got this propaganda from if you please? Most of the folks who try vaping that I have known and others I’ve talked to have quit smoking usually within a weeks time for most and for some others it may take a month or more. These are all folks who tried the traditional approaches {patch, gums} that have a success rate between 5-10%. I myself used a patch for a year and still managed to smoke 3 packs a day while wearing the highest milligram level of patch! Talk about a complete and utter waste of money plus the patches burned my skin. I smoked for 37 years, 3 packs a day and 3-10 cigars on top of that.
    I tried an ecig and while I didn’t want to quit smoking only cut down, I found myself unable to stomach the taste of a tobacco cigarette in just 3 days! No one was more stunned than I was.
    I had uncontrolled Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis and I needed to use 5 different inhalers on a normal day.I could barely walk my dog or go up the stairs without getting severely winded. I thank God that I had a friend who recommended that I try an ecig since everything else I had tried failed. I went down all the traditional routes to quit smoking. It’s now been going on 5 years since I had a cigarette being able to choose a flavor I liked and getting enough or as little nicotine as I needed was key.
    I’m not surprised that AATUD is demonizing ecigs.
    After all their funding comes from those Big Pharma companies who make the patches and fruit flavored gums… I have to wonder why we don’t hear them claiming that those nicotine products are “youth gateways” or that those flavors attract kids?
    Don’t believe this article it is nothing more than propaganda and fear mongering.

  2. Nothing like self serving crony capitalism propaganda that hides irreconcilable financial conflicts of interest.

    The ATTUD, whose members incomes are derived from hawking Big Pharma drugs as the only “safe and effective” smoking cessation products, has been lying about e-cigarettes since 2009 when it (and other Big Pharma shills) lobbied the FDA to unlawfully ban the products.

    Dozens of scientific surveys have consistently found an ever increasing number of smokers who quit smoking by switching to e-cigarettes.

    A 2014 Gallup Poll found that 5% of US ex-smokers quit smoking with nicotine patches, 3% with electronic cigarettes, 2% with prescription drugs and 1% with nicotine gum.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1717/tobacco-smoking.aspx

    But while nicotine patches and gums have been taxpayer subsidized, aggressively marketed and touted by DHHS, state/local health agencies and Big Pharma funded ACS, AHA, ALA, AMA, ATTUD, etc. for past two decades, as have prescription drugs for past decade, Obama’s DHHS unlawfully banned e-cigs in 2009 and has demonized them ever since (as have all those Big Pharma funded groups).

    The scientific and empirical evidence also has consistently found that e-cigarettes (aka vapor products):
    – are 99% (+/-1%) less hazardous than cigarettes,
    – have never been known to cause any disease,
    – are virtually all (i.e. >99%) consumed by smokers and by exsmokers who switched to vaping,
    – have replaced more than 3 Billion packs of cigarettes worldwide in the past five years,
    – have helped several million smokers quit smoking, and have helped several million more sharply reduce their cigarette consumption,
    – are more effective than FDA approved nicotine gums, lozenges and patches for smoking cessation (which have a 95% failure rate),
    – pose fewer risks than FDA approved Verenicline (Chantix),
    – have never been found to create nicotine dependence in any nonsmoker (youth or adult),
    – have never been found to be a gateway to cigarette smoking for anyone,
    – emit trace levels of nontoxic aerosol that poses no harm to nonusers,
    – have never poisoned any human, and
    – have further denormalized cigarette smoking (as youth and adult smoking rates and cigarette consumption have declined every year since 2007 when vapor sales began to skyrocket).

    The entire smoking cessation industry is a fraud, as FDA approved NRT products have a 95% failure rate (for smoking cessation), while FDA approved Chantix has caused suicides, violence and depressions that have resulted in more than 500 lawsuits against Pfizer.

    Also, in sharp contrast to Big Pharma shills that demonize e-cigs without disclosing their Big Pharma funding, neither I nor Smokefree Pennsylvania have received any funding from any drug, tobacco or e-cigarette company.

    Bill Godshall
    Executive Director
    Smokefree Pennsylvania
    1926 Monongahela Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15218
    412-351-5880
    BillGodshall@verizon.net

  3. It is just not true that there is no research on electronic cigarettes.

    To the contrary a British study showed electronic cigarettes 60% more effective then the patch & gum.

    Also the AHA & ACS have both made statements that electronic cigarettes are a reasonable alternative if the patch & gum do not work.

    Besides the above information studys on what is in second hand vapor (only nicotine and one that showed only one carcinogen at very high temperatures. Combustible tobacco has 40 know carcinogens making E-Cigs a much safer alternative to smoking.

  4. Well guess what? I am heavy smoker since I am eighteen until I literally use e cigarette in my life. Tried all methods of what is so called ceasation aide that is available including chantix. Medical world likes to fantasize there favorable fantasies that literally don’t work. I am glad that I tried it all before I use electronic cigarette and literally dropping down to zero nicotine. There are many peers who experience the same thing as well. There are difference between medical science nerds favorables and nick picking versus what works for real smoker who truly able to successfully quite nicotine. You are medical science nerd and I am science nerd as well, I speculate this technology over a year with details research before deciding to using it. There is no such system that will ensures there will be no abusers in this world so please wake up and admit to the truth. Regardless if it is jUST less harmful alternative, it is still very first system that did not fail to help real smoker to quiet. Medical world just don’t want to admit how badly there controversial medical science solutions fail in this area. I observe plenty of over fifty years old successful quite by this method. American Heart Association right! Just for your information if you do your study and research on your heart surgery and medication when it first having major breakthrough, the doctor who is responsible for the invention is sentenced out of controversy and yet without him, you wouldn’t be here. You are accusing for 21st centry most important nicotine quitting device and it will write you not very great history down in the road. Everything have risk including your Association doctor members who perform heart surgery, admit to the truth and reality. Even NASA recently release today society like to think any great invention are without any risk and the fact is risk carry with us everyday. Stay real doctors, we the real smokers in fact feels this benefits out of electronic cigarette within the first few day out of it and when we drop to zero nicotine, we continue to have our friend gatherings and help more people to quite. No matter how society trying to limit the usage in certain area, it is not going to change, we are there to quite instead of finding another method of smoking heaven. Most importantly, medical doctors have to admit how badly they fail on successfully helping people to quite instead of pointing finger at just using all those failing methods that doesn’t work.

  5. It’s silly that e-cigarette makers should be expected to put an ingredients list on the devices *unless* they are also selling the nicotine liquid in a cartridge, then of course they should list their ingredients. Be aware though that many e-juice liquid vendors DO list the ingredients right on the label in very forthright terms.

    As for dual use (smoking as well as vaping) that’s usually temporary as vaping is much more pleasant than smoking, giving rise to a new category of former smokers: the accidental quitters. However this new group is hard to categorize and researchers from Big Tobacco and Tobacco Control aren’t sure how to handle this new disruptive technology– they simply do not like it and want it to go away.

    I feel that it would be healthier to not smoke or vape ever, and to have never started either. However since vaping has helped me kick a 20+ year smoking habit, and I do feel much better, I think it’s safe to assume that vaping although maybe not perfectly safe, is much safer than smoking tobacco. I would like to preserve the rights of other smokers to be able to become “former smokers” as well.

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